THE ROLE OF FEVER-A Philosophical Explanation

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The experiments of Dr. Kluger and Bernheim at the Department of Physiology, University of Michigan (see Pivot Review, Vol. l No. 2) demonstrate the value of fever as a bodily defense mechanism. This has been the position of the chiropractor for many years. However, the fact remains that at times fever can be harmful. It can lead to convulsions and on rare occasions, brain damage. It appears therefore that there are two types of fever – beneficial and harmful.
The beneficial fever is the one discussed in the last issue in which the innate intelligence of the body elevates the temperature in order to better fight an invasive organism. This is a normal, natural mechanism of the body. The innate intelligence can elevate the temperature as needed to the degree necessary and for as long as necessary. Unfortunately, many times a well-meaning physician or a concerned mother has interfered with this normal mechanism within the body and has in fact tried to decrease a beneficial fever. In doing that, the body’s defense mechanism is overcome and serious complications can occur. As in the iguana experiments, many times the body will still elevate the temperature in spite of the antipyretics or cold baths. Thankfully, more often than not, the body will utilize other mechanisms despite this unwanted intervention and normalize itself anyway.
The second type of fever is harmful and can cause complications. The important philosophical principle to keep in mind is understanding that there are two types and the innate intelligence of the body will never do anything to harm the tissues in which it resides. That would not be intelligent and the innate intelligence always functions intelligently. Since the innate intelligence will never do anything to harm the body and since fevers can be harmful, it logically follows that the temperature-regulating mechanism is able to dysfunction. The location of the temperature-regulating mechanism and the means by which the dysfunction occurs is not necessary to a philosophical discussion, but it apparently is related directly to nerve interference at the vertebral level. There are three examples that clinically demonstrate the philosophical principle. Most chiropractors have experienced adjusting a small, feverish child brought in by a concerned parent and seeing the body normalize its temperature almost immediately. This is a clinical demonstration of the body’s ability to regulate itself and do it much better without vertebral subluxation. This was obviously a harmful fever which the body did not want. It was due to a dysfunction of the fever-regulating mechanism. When the interference was removed the body began to work better and normalized the temperature almost immediately. It may very well be that many fevers are of this type and eventually the body reduces them even in children who are never adjusted. The body has other means of normalizing harmful fevers due to nerve interference. The body adapts in spite of vertebral subluxation. It just does not adapt as well. This is the first example.
The second example is a beneficial fever. The child may not have even needed an adjustment or if he or she did need to be adjusted, it did not affect the fever. The fever runs its course, the little one is perhaps uncomfortable for a while but eventually when the innate intelligence of the body has used the fever to serve its purpose, it will reduce it.
The third situation is probably not seen too often. This is the small child who is brought in with no particular symptoms and shortly after an adjustment the child begins to manifest symptoms of being a sick little tyke. The fever-regulating mechanism was not working properly, only in this case, that malfunction manifested itself as a lack of fever when one is needed rather than a high fever when one is not called for.
The difficulty is in the parent attempting to determine a beneficial fever from a harmful one. Fever is a symptom. All symptoms are either a manifestation that the body is adapting (the innate intelligence of the body expressing itself with the beneficial fever) or that the body is failing to adapt due to limitations of time and matter (the harmful fever). We know philosophically that the innate intelligence will not elevate the temperature to a point that would be harmful. That would not be intelligent. But what temperature is “too high?”
For one person 104 may be in his or her normal range, for another it may cause convulsions. Just saying “if the patient is adjusted, his or her body will normalize itself” is not enough. A patient’s body, even though in adjustment, may pass that critical point due to limitations of time or matter in spite of the efforts of the innate intelligence to bring it down. I have never heard of a case of a child who was adjusted going into convulsions but in theory it is possible. The parent is therefore faced with a decision. Is the child experiencing a beneficial or harmful fever? What is the critical point and has it been passed? Am I interfering with the innate intelligence of the body doing its job? Does the child need emergency first aid measures to bring down the fever? These are difficult questions to answer. It’s one thing when it is your own body and you have an awareness of its needs, but when it’s someone else’s, especially your little child, the decisions are tough. But then no one ever said that being a parent was easy.
Like most other aspects of health care the key is common sense. Chiropractic does not demand a religious fanaticism but the use of a sound mind. It is incumbent upon the doctor of chiropractic to explain this aspect of chiropractic philosophy to the patient so that he or she can make a common sense judgment for himself or herself or the small child. Some parents will make mistakes, instituting first aid treatment when the fever is not critical. But the more people understand the philosophy of chiropractic, the less parents will be interfering with normal bodily functions, particularly in the case of moderate and slight fevers. Most importantly, the more people understand the philosophy of chiropractic, the better a patient they and their families will be. This will lead to healthier people whose bodies will work properly and never reach that critical point where emergency intervention is necessary.
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